Almost made it to the Keys

January 21

Couple of issues I need to address prior to our latest adventures on Whisky Business. In the last post, The Long and Winding Road, I made a disparaging remark about Sea Ray owners. While it seems to happen more often with that marque than any other, I apologize for that. There are many owners of these boats like Bert and Sylvia Kremer who own a beautiful Sea Ray who were our neighbors in Captain’s Quarter’s Marina in Louisville. These very capable co-captains would never dream of waking another vessel in the haphazard way we were treated in Florida waters. Bert and Sylvia, if you are reading this I hope you accept my apology.

Also, in the same post quite a few images did not show up. Should you take another look they are now there.

On Tuesday, January 8 Dave and I departed Burnt Store Marina for a 1 day run to Fort Myers and then another single day run up the Caloosahatchee River to River Forest Yachting Center for a haul out and bottom job. This river eventually becomes a ditch that goes to the huge Lake Okeechobee in the middle of the state. There are 2 locks that raise the water level a total of 10 feet.


River Forest is in the middle of the state and believe me when I tell you it is in the middle nowhere. BUT, since it is so far from the coast it is well protected from hurricanes and all of the storage buildings are hurricane rated. This place was the cleanest boat yard I have ever seen.


This really narrow channel runs from the boat yard to the river channel. Looks to be 30 feet wide. WB is 15 feet wide. Not a lot of room for error. Upon our arrival I asked the yard manager for a shovel so I might widen it a bit for our departure. The boat in the foreground is a 60+foot Neptunus belonging to the fella that owns the yard. With it’s many custom features, maybe $4M? Me and WB were total riff raff in this facility.


Following photos are WB after getting her bottom painted. This high copper content paint makes it more difficult for growth to occur on the bottom especially in salt water.


Notice the shiny metal plates on the back of the boat and on the prop shaft? These are zinc sacrificial anodes that in an environment where there may be electricity running through the water, it will attack the replaceable  zinc anodes instead of the expensive metal boat parts like propellers ($2500 each) or shafts ($4000 each).


This device called a Spur is a scissor device mounted on the propeller shaft and strut that cuts rope should it get tangled up with the propeller.

This is a 1 inch thick, 5 foot long piece of rope we picked up on the way from St. Petersburg. Fortunately the propeller cut/ripped it off whatever it was secured to beneath the surface of the water. Very well could have stopped the boat. These Spurs would have cut that thing to pieces.


Following time lapse video of River Forest launching WB.

After the yard launched WB, we got out the grill, cooked up some real pretty strip steaks, couple bottles of wine and a fabulous dessert we picked up in Chattanooga, home of Moon Pies.


And then inspiration hit. Culinary Nirvana!

You got nuttin’ on me Master Chef Cassaro!


Following morning we are to leave for a  day journey to Cape Coral to meet up with Bob and Pam Shircliff aboard Mint Julep for a trip to Marathon Key.


Along the way I taught myself how to “whip” a line. After a while rope will fray and unravel. As a preventive measure, I ordered a very large needle and waxed whipping twine. Running the twine through the end of the rope and then wrapping the end of the rope/line with this stuff will make the rope/line last a lot longer. Plus it makes the rope look a lot better.


Some pretty cool hacienda’s along the Caloosatatchee headed back to Fort Myers.


Debbie manning the bow as we go through the Ortona Lock with it’s staggering 1 foot drop. Notice the rope she is hanging onto? Remember when we were on the rivers and we would have to put a line around a bollard to lock through? Not here, Just grab a rope and hold on.


They don’t pump the water in and out of these lock chambers. Just open the door a couple of feet and let the water run in or out.


This is a faux steamer running the river. Not many folks on board today? Heard the skipper of this vessel call the lock master at Ortona and announce he had 160 on board that day. Yes, it was a wee bit chilly.img_0932

This railroad bridge that is 9 feet above the water remains in the open position until a train needs to cross.


Downtown Fort Myers.


We arrive in Cape Coral and tie up to the beautiful Mint Julep, a 63 foot long ocean crossing vessel owned by our friends the Shircliffs. Seated: Pam Shircliff, the War Department (that would be Debbie) and Sue Heilman. Standing: yours truly, Dave Heilman, Bob Shircliff and their friend Dave (sumthin or other). That’s the diminutive Whisky Business on the right side of the photo looking rather small…


Upon our arrival in the anchorage we saw this yacht whose name some of you may recognize. Far Niente. That name is well known to wine lovers all over the world as it is also the name of a fabulous Napa Valley winery by the same name. When you sell wine for $6 an ounce ($150+per bottle) I guess you can afford a yacht such as this. Notice there are 4 people on board washing this monster.


After dinner that evening upon reviewing sea and wind conditions for the trip to the Keys out of safety considerations we canceled our trip. Just too rough out there. So we enjoyed the following sunset, went to bed and headed back to Burnt Store Marina the following day.


Great photo of Dave and Sue screwing up the sunset for Debbie and me.


Actually these sunset photo’s were taken as we arrived in Charlotte Harbor. We were 30 minutes from sunset when we got to the entrance to the marina so we stayed put in the harbor and waited for another glorious sunset. Never get tired of ’em.


In closing, I want to tell you about a free app that can be downloaded from the App Store. It is called “Nebo – boat logging made easy” Great little app we Loopers use to track each other in order to meet up. Just got a call from some folks we met on the way down the Ten Tom Waterway who are now in Cape Coral along with 2 other boats we traveled with. Will have a reunion of sorts in a few days. You will always be able to see where WB is on this app. Pretty cool stuff.

2 thoughts on “Almost made it to the Keys”

  1. Looks like you are having the time of your lives. Love your cousin Sue (as I sit at home with over 20″ of snow all around me)


  2. Looks like a lot of fun so far. Sylvia and I saw your SeaRay comment and just chalked it up to frustration. Anyway, thanks for the apology. Bert & Sylvia


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